Fire safety aspects of PCM-enhanced gypsum plasterboards: An experimental and numerical investigation

Asimakopoulou, Eleni orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5644-1372, Kolaitis, Dionysios and Founti, Maria (2015) Fire safety aspects of PCM-enhanced gypsum plasterboards: An experimental and numerical investigation. Fire Safety Journal, 72 . pp. 50-58. ISSN 0379-7112

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New trends in building energy efficiency include thermal storage in building elements that can be achieved via the incorporation of Phase Change Materials (PCM). Gypsum plasterboards enhanced with micro-encapsulated paraffin-based PCM have recently become commercially available. This work aims to shed light on the fire safety aspects of using such innovative building materials, by means of an extensive experimental and numerical simulation study. The main thermo-physical properties and the fire behaviour of PCM-enhanced plasterboards are investigated, using a variety of methods (i.e. thermo-gravimetric analysis, differential scanning calorimetry, cone calorimeter, scanning electron microscopy). It is demonstrated that in the high temperature environment developing during a fire, the PCM paraffins evaporate and escape through the failed encapsulation shells and the gypsum plasterboard's porous structure, emerging in the fire region, where they ignite increasing the effective fire load. The experimental data are used to develop a numerical model that accurately describes the fire behaviour of PCM-enhanced gypsum plasterboards. The model is implemented in a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) code and is validated against cone calorimeter test results. CFD simulations are used to demonstrate that the use of paraffin-based PCM-enhanced construction materials may, in case the micro-encapsulation shells fail, adversely affect the fire safety characteristics of a building. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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